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How to keep kids calm during severe weather

Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 1:54 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- The loud noises, the video we’ve seen and the aftermath of severe weather can be frightening for people of all ages, but especially the youngest ones in our lives.

Seven-year-old Jada Jeter remembers a time she was in a storm.

“We had to go into a shelter, and it was dark, and I was kind of scared,” Jeter said.

Eight-year-old Bella from Rochester said she gets very scared when storms hit.

“I have been in one when I was 7, mostly what I do is I mostly cry a little bit, then I go to my dad or mom, and I hug them really tight, and it makes me feel better,” she said.

When KTTC asked Jada why she was scared, she said, “Because I didn’t want to die.”

Marion Sanchez is a therapist in Rochester.

“Anxiety stems from the unknown. Knowledge is power,” she said.

She says caretakers play a big role.

“Kids feed off parents’ energy. So, if they remain calm, kids remain calm. So, that would be the biggest thing to start with,” Sanchez said.

Tornadoes can be intimidating. Sometimes the best thing you can do is turn to your TV, a tablet or phone.

KTTC Meteorologist Amanda Morgan said she used to be frightened by storms too, but something helped her.

“When I was younger, I was always a little nervous too,” she said. “Something that really helped me was turning on and watching the news. When there is a threat for severe weather, and you are unsure with what is going to happen, just turn on the news, listen to the meteorologist and see what they are saying. If it’s on the other side of the state, if it could be heading towards you.”

Another good educational tool can be found and played with in St. Paul. It’s a tornado made of water vapor. Kids can touch it and read up on how tornadoes form.

“This is part of our experiment gallery here at the Science Museum of Minnesota,” Karilyn Robinson said. “It’s a really good way to ease fears about extreme weather. So much of fear is not knowing. So, we can come here and learn more about tornadoes.”

It goes back to “knowledge is power.” Being prepared is key. You should have a safety plan, teach children about being brave, teach them about storms, keep calm and if none of these work, create a distraction and promise to talk more about the storm at a later time.

“Often times if kids know what to expect, and there is a plan in place, that can really ease some of that anxiety,” Sanchez said.

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